Apple’s update to the MacBook Pro is one of the most eagerly-awaited upgrades from Apple. So, what can we expect?
A recent rumor points to a late-year update to the MacBook Pro Retina that includes touch ID support and an OLED “touch bar,” above the keyboard, to replace the function keys.
The new high-performance MacBooks -- not updated physically since 2013 -- are also expected to take design cues from the impossibly-thin 12-inch Retina MacBook, arguably Apple’s first watershed redesign of the MacBook since Steve Jobs introduced the MacBook Air back in 2008.
I've been using the newest 12-inch Retina MacBook for more than six months now. Here's my best (educated) guess of what Apple could include in a new MacBook Pro.
New keyboard: The new 12-inch MacBook keyboard uses a butterfly mechanism instead of the traditional scissor design. Apple claims it helps improve typing accuracy. The keys also have a 17 percent larger surface area. So, it would be reasonable to expect that Apple may update the MBP's keyboard with some of these elements. Based on my own experience, I can attest that typing on the 12-inch MacBook’s keyboard is radically different from any keyboard I’ve used to date and, for the most part, it’s better. The only downside is that typing can, after a few hours, be hard on your fingers because the keys are so thin. On a thicker, high-performance MacBook, Apple could potentially develop a keyboard with a softer typing experience.
USB Type-C: This new connection technology will likely be on most laptops coming out in 2016 and Apple has led the way with the 12-inch MacBook. It’s the best USB yet because it has a tiny space-saving connector and because it’s foolproof – i.e, it doesn’t matter which way you insert the connector. And it’s fast.
That doesn't mean it's perfect. On the updated 2016 version of the 12-inch MacBook, I couldn't get a Dell U2515H (2560x1440) display to go to sleep when connected to Apple's USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter via HDMI – despite the fact that the Dell display works perfectly with my 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina's HDMI port. But I'm guessing Apple’s new high-performance MacBook will come with more than one USB-C port, rendering the multiport adapter largely unnecessary. And the new MacBooks will also likely support Thunderbolt 3, another high-speed connection technology.
Thinner and lighter: Apple obsesses about thinness. So, it's a good bet that a new high-performance MacBook will be its slimmest MBP yet. Remember that in 2013, Apple was obsessed enough to come out quickly with an update to the already freshly-redesigned, slimmed-down 13.3-inch MacBook Pro Retina. Apple felt compelled to reduce the thickness by an additional 0.04 inches, from 0.75 inches to 0.71 inches. That helped to reduce the weight from 3.57 pounds to 3.46 pounds. Expect a more radical downsizing this time around.
Battery life: Apple could tap into the terraced battery cell tech used in the 12-inch MacBook to deliver a fairly big gain in battery life -- another thing Apple obsesses about.
Faster (maybe): The 2016 update to the 12-inch MacBook offers, not surprisingly, better performance. But not by a lot. And a new high-performance 13-inch MacBook wouldn't necessarily be a lot faster either. Benchmarking of Intel's 6th generation "Skylake" processors doesn't show huge performance gains over the 5th generation "Broadwell" processors. That said, an update to the 15.4-inch MacBook Pro, which still uses aging 4th Generation "Haswell" chips, could be significant since it’s leap frogging two generations, from the fourth to the sixth generation. And graphics chips could also deliver a big uptick in performance.
Speakers: Apple will undoubtedly do something with the speakers. The 12-inch MacBook has pretty amazing speakers in spite of its ultra-slim design. And another new product, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, has a mind-blowing quad speaker system.
What else does Apple have planned? Let us know below if you have any thoughts.